Here’s how I’m dealing with Covid-19

How about you?

Can I ask if this is a safe place to open up?

Since I can’t hear your response, I will imagine you nodding “yes.”

First, I’m a foreigner living in a Middle Eastern country. That’s curious enough and a surprise to me as well as it is to anyone who knows me. And second, I’m in a high-risk age group of the population. But, I LOVE Istanbul and I feel safe here and yet, afraid at the same time. If I allow myself to look at the negatives, I will drive myself crazy—and raise my BP. I don’t speak the language. Would that matter if I had C-19 symptoms and showed up at a hospital? But I also feel super secure in the fact that the health care system is one of the best in the world. And the Turkish people take care of their own. And as long as I’m living in their country, I’m certain they will take care of me.

So here’s what I’m doing.

First, I got my hair done yesterday. And then walked to my neighborhood Starbucks. It was business as usual but fewer people on the streets. Still, I nodded at the familiar smiling faces and thanked the staff at Starbucks by slipping an extra big tip in their jar when they weren’t looking. I know it will be lean times for all workers over the next few weeks. Some businesses are already closed down.

It was freezing out and windy but I’m grateful for the fact that I’m healthy and can walk and afford to go to the hairdressers, the pharmacy and Starbucks.

I glanced across the street and witnessed this. It the first time I’ve seen this in Istanbul.

“There, but for the grace of God…” It made my heart hurt. What will the poor people and the refugees do during this scary time?

Further on my walk I looked up and saw these event posters hanging everywhere.

I LOVE YOU. And that made my heart sing.

I came to a decision yesterday. In life we always have choices. I chose to be the LIGHT, I will do what I’ve always done. I will put my own fears aside and show strength and compassion.

So I opened up my computer and did a FB Live. I said hi to friends and readers of my novels and memoir that I’ve met from all over the world. I connected and made people smile. Then I shared something I learned from Elizabeth Gilbert—the author of Eat Pray Love—she called it a grounding technique to bring us back into the present.

And now I will share it with you.

5 4 3 2 1

Name 5 things you can see right now. I. I see the sun streaming in through my loft window landing on my white cotton comforter on my bed 2. I see a colorful pocket notebook with Istanbul and a sketch of the Hagia Sophia on the cover 3. I see my iPad where I have a thousand books and several I have not yet read so I know what I will do with my time if I self-isolate 4. I see photos in a stack in front of me, the only things I kept from my past when I packed my suitcase and left my life in Mexico to travel in 2019 5. I see the fresh coffee I just made from the extra bags of beans I bought at Starbucks yesterday.

Name 4 things you can hear right now. 1. I hear the hum of the heater—it’s cold today. I’m so grateful to have electricity. 2. I hear the Call to Prayer at the Mosque. I know Muslims all over the world will stop and say their prayers in the privacy of their offices or homes because groups are forbidden by the Iman during this time of the virus. 3. I can hear a seagull calling. The Bosphorus Strait is at the end of my street 4. I can hear the keyboard click as I type each word and hope I’m inspiring you.

Name 3 things you feel right now. 1. I feel happy because my boyfriend came over last night and made me laugh and helped me get centered. 2. I feel loved and cherished to know that someone cares that I’m okay. 3. I feel purposeful because I made a decision in the midst of my anxiety that I would do what I do best and spread LIGHT and LOVE.

Name 2 things you can smell right now. 1. My steaming black coffee 2. My Chanel Chance perfume that I put on my neck just for me.

Name 1 thing you can taste right now. I can taste the bananas with honey sprinkled with Chia seeds that I’m eating while I write this piece for you.

And finally, since it’s the eve of my BIRTHDAY, this is my birthday wish:

I will send an intention out to the Universe that when this virus is finally under control, governments, countries, and people can somehow begin to truly embrace the fact that #weareallone.

As always, thanks for reading. And if you’re looking for something to read. ULTIMATUM Code Raven 3 is free right now!

If good girls are bad girls that haven’t got caught…

Are you afraid of getting old?

I’ve obsessed over my body my entire life. Until I found a very special kind of love.

Here’s a photo of me at 9 years of age. I think that’s around the time I became aware of how important body image was to me.

I never thought I was beautiful. But I can see in this picture I was cute! This photo was taken in 1956, I was 9, well before the internet. I don’t remember any body-shaming or certain ideals that we had to conform to in our era. The insecurity was all inside of me.

I’ve never been an athlete although I danced when I was young — you can see from my ballerina stance. So the physical things that many might miss as they age have never bothered me. But I’ve always been ‘on a diet’ which is a pathetic way to go through life. I’ve never been fat! But again, it’s the feeling of never being enough — pretty enough, skinny enough, talented enough — a woman’s insecurity for sure.

At some point in life, I realized I had to find that confidence inside myself to understand and love myself exactly the way I am.

1994 driving across Canada from Montreal to Whistler, BC after losing my fashion business and declaring personal bankruptcy. I have a Ph.D. in Starting Over.

I am not my physical body.

I’m a woman of many talents and lots of heart. I would say that since I was given 6 months to live in 2008, I’ve finally got a grip on my physical selfI stopped angsting over whether I could ski from the top of Blackcomb mountain to the base without stopping — who cares? I stopped worrying about old age because I might not live to experience old age. And I vowed to get a grip on my emotional insecurities and do the things I’d always wanted to do! I made a promise to myself to publish my poetry (the way I journaled my life) and then moved on to write and publish novels. In other words, I made a decision that I would not allow the physical parts of aging to define me. Instead, I would go deeper into what I was born to do, to inspire and motivate myself and others, to spread love and compassion — to make a difference in the world, no matter how small.

People tell me all the time that I am beautiful. I will be 73 in 3 weeks. I hear this more today than ever before in my life. Why? I believe it’s a smile that’s sincere, and a life purpose that shines through my eyes. These are gifts that I’ve earned through years of mistakes and disappointment.

I refuse to dwell in that place of “my body is aging” instead I say “I’m so grateful for second chances.” I’m happy my instincts send me to a doctor when something physical needs attention. But most of all, I give thanks daily for my outlook in life.

I will not allow the actions of others to define my emotional well-being. I’m not saying that’s an easy thing — I’ve worked hard to overcome past pain and current disappointments. I still have a child-like wonder and joy of a world that still has so much to show me, and people I have yet to meet. I will always have places I have to visit even if they are only blocks away from where I live. And I have a curiosity about everything and continue to learn new things daily.

I finally retired from my day job at the end of 2018. I sold everything I owned and bought an airplane ticket with no return destination. I left Mexico where I’d lived for 18 years, celebrated my 72nd birthday in Tel Aviv, and after I’d traveled for a few months, returned to Istanbul where I am today. Eighteen months ago I didn’t know where Turkey was on the world map!

Curiosity and attitude will truly sustain me and keep me off the ‘pity-party’ wagon as my body ages.

And if my mind goes, so be it — I won’t know what I’m missing anyway!

I only have one question:

If good girls are bad girls that haven’t been caught, where will the good girls go when we die?

Istanbul 2020.

What advice would you give to a want-to-be writer?

Writing is not something you choose to do. Writing chooses you.

What you decide to do with your gift is up to you.

I’ve always lived inside my head. I have a vivid imagination—not just for fiction but for living. I can picture myself on a plane to anywhere, anytime, even right this moment! I can read something in the news like the plane that crashed yesterday in Kazakhastan and imagine myself being a crew member when the plane went down. RIP 100 people.

I wander around my apartment in Istanbul—this time last year I was living in Mexico—and play out my next Code Raven Plot in my mind. Should I remain in Turkey, like The Istanbul Conspiracy I published on Christmas Day? The surprises in that book have me reeling! Maybe I will take CR 8 to Jerusalem, or Bangkok? Wait! But my next book will be another memoir!!

“Hah, you think you are in control, Lynda?” My cocky Muse.

“But…”

“No ‘but’s’ about it. You ended that political suspense book with too much drama. We have to know where this story will go. So sit down, and plot it out!”

“Wait. I really want to write another memoir! I traveled this year, I learned so much. I grew so much!! This memoir will be so filled with life and love. My fans are waiting.”

“Okay, we will compromise. You can work on both of them at the same time.”

“Muse! You are out of control!! First, you aged my young Alice by 7 years in this book! Then, you did the unspeakable! I mean, really, right before the wedding a terrorist attack! How could you?”

My Muse remained silent. I imagine she/he/God is smiling.

A quote comes to mind, “When man plans, God laughs.”

As a writer, I can plan all I want, but the magic happens when I let my Muse have her way with me.

If you play by the rules, you miss all the fun!

I LOVE that I am fearless and refuse to live my life the way society dictates. Every morning I find joy in my love of life that has led me to adventures beyond what I ever thought possible.

Istanbul 2019

I woke up this morning and hit the yoga mat. I have immense gratitude that at 72 I am able to move every single part of my body without pain.

I sat down at my desk and finished editing my latest book, The Istanbul Conspiracy. I LOVE that I’ve been blessed with the gift of imagination and the ability to entertain and inspire.

When I take a my medications for heart/blood pressure, I give thanks to a world that has created drugs that have allowed a woman like me to continue living and loving even though I was given “6 months to live” in 2009!

And I take joy from my attitude in life: everything amazes, surprises, and delights me…simple things like the Istanbul cats, Starbucks coffee, caramel waffle cookies, and finding fresh lettuce for my salad at the corner store.

And I find joy — endless joy, in creativity: photography, writing my novels, reading, graphics, fashion, music. And style, like my new hair color. This is what happens when you don’t speak Turkish, your hairdresser doesn’t speak English — but he gets me!

I take joy in knowing I have two amazing sons in my life. We don’t always see eye-to-eye, but that’s okay. They are both just like me: strong-willed and on their own paths.

I’ve been through bankruptcies and divorces — make no comment about the plurals, please! But my stubborn determination to succeed means I’ve bounced back from both more times than I can remember and refuse to become hardened or bitter.

And at this moment in time, I have a very loving relationship with a guy who makes me laugh-out-loud and reminds me that I’m beautiful inside and out. He says that age is just a number to be ignored — ”It’s what’s in your heart that counts.”

Finally — although I’m sure I can come up with a lot more — I have a philosophy in life — many, actually, but I will share this one:

Do you have any thoughts on Loneliness and Aging?

I believe that loneliness is a direct relation to self-love and self-worth. Let’s face the fact that aging is a subject that’s on every woman’s mind once she reaches the age of 30. Why is that? Why do we worry so much about getting older and being alone? I think it has to do with self-love. We just don’t love our selves enough.

We can blame it on the society we live in as aging is a first-world-obsession. All we have to do is look at the media to see that once a woman hits 50 she begins to become invisible. But mostly, this same woman is allowing society to create the fiction that there is something wrong with aging.

I know this might be a rambling comment, but it hurts my heart to hear talk of loneliness when I believe that within ourselves we are whole and complete. I’ve always been a loner—I’m a poet, a memoirist—LOVE The Beat Goes On—a novelist, a whole new career that began in the last decade.

I remember a time when I wouldn’t go to a restaurant and dine alone. I didn’t always have the confidence I have today. I had to work at it.

This photo was taken on my 70th birthday. I spent it at a high-end restaurant on the beach in Puerto Vallarta—a sunset dinner ALL BY MYSELF! It was a first. And it was amazing.

It took me until I was 72 to begin an amazing journey to many countries in the world, not on a tour, not with a group—all alone. And it’s been life-changing.

WE create a situation called loneliness. It doesn’t have to be that way.

I’ve always believed that happiness, contentment, love, health, all these things are related to how much we not only like our self but LOVE ourselves.

I love to say I live in my own little world, they know me there. I could also add, they—all the different aspects that make up the person I have become—LOVE me there. I don’t need other people in my life and yet, I meet new people everywhere. I met my current boyfriend at a touristy spot in Istanbul seven months ago. He was studying English and wanted to practice with someone. It was cold and rather rainy so I accepted the offer of Turkish tea. I took a chance and said yes to dinner later that evening. And here I am, living in Istanbul—for now.

Loneliness is a decision and a choice. You can meet people in a coffee shop, at an art gallery, at the museum, standing in line at the grocery store. I met a woman who has become a friend in a restaurant in Istanbul. She was dining alone and asked me to join her. I had a cold and didn’t want the company. But she asked again when her dessert came and you can always bribe me with “this is too much for me, please share my baklava!” She’s from the Philippines, lives in Florida with her sister, and is currently doing some freelance writing in Rome! She fell in love with Turkey at the same time as I did. Now she’s organizing a religious tour around Turkey next year!!

In today’s world, it’s easy to make friends if you want to. But you need to have the strength inside your own heart—self-love and personal happiness—to make it through the ups and downs of navigating the world.

It all comes back to self-love. And it’s never too late to learn to love yourself.

Survival tips:

  1. learn something new every day
  2. Read, voraciously. Choose new genres, expand the mind
  3. Travel, even if it’s to a new neighborhood—take risks, step outside your comfort zone
  4. Take up a new hobby—everyone has a cell phone—take photos, have fun with them, join Instagram, connect with old friends.
  5. And if you’re my age, do something crazy, like color your hair—okay, not this bright (I manipulated the brightness for the fun of it!)
  6. And take care of your health, take your meds, do some yoga—you don’t have to leave home to find a great yoga video online
  7. And try writing. I know you already love reading or you wouldn’t be here.
  8. And most of all, take risks.
  9. The Best Things in life begin with YES!

Why did it hurt so much?

What was the most difficult thing you had to deal with after writing and publishing your personal story or memoir?

To understand what I’m about to reveal, let me explain that in 2008 I was given 6 months to live! I was diagnosed with a heart condition that I didn’t know I had but the symptoms had been with me for at least a year. After months of treatment and absolutely no improvement, the doctors told me to “get my affairs in order”—and they weren’t referring to my love life!

Writing LOVE The Beat Goes On was the most amazing experience for me, and yet, so highly personal and revealing. I cried a lot and laughed too. There’s a great quote I read after I published it: When you write a memoir, there’s no place to hide. I also read a comment about memoirs that said there is rarely truth in a memoir. Two very differing points of view and both equally correct.

The book won medals, and was chosen as a Book of the Month club selection, and read by groups, and sits at 4.5 Stars in the top 25 of Amazon Health, Fitness books. BUT, I got one super hurtful nasty review. The writer compared me to Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat Pray Love which I loved, but the review said basically that I (and Liz) was a woman of passion and privilege. I can’t argue the passion, but what hurt so much was the “privilege.”

My immediate thoughts went to my upbringing. My Dad was a military guy with all the challenges of returning from war. He drank, he smoked and I only recall bad times that ended in arguments between my mom and him. I also remember bearing the brunt of his anger and leaving the supper table daily in tears. But those times helped me become independent and self-sufficient.

We moved every three years—I still have difficulty staying in one place and forming attachments—including marriages. I found out I divorce very well. I had my first job at the age of 11, washing hair in a beauty salon on the weekends. And I worked my butt off my entire life—built businesses, lost them, and kept on going. Hardly a privileged life.

I don’t say these things for pity. I don’t believe in self-pity or blame. I mention them as facts. The same way I might smile when I buy a new pair of shoes. When I was a kid, I got a new pair of shoes when there was a hole in the sole and the cardboard that blocked the hole didn’t work anymore.

This was the only life I knew. And I learned from it. I came away strong and independent and determined to make a place for myself in the world. I brought up my boys, I supported my family, and when fate gave me 6 months to live, I never ever gave up my belief that I could and would heal myself.

It’s okay to dislike my personal story or not feel hope and inspiration for the way I fought through those challenges and defied the doctors’ diagnoses. But the personal attack, that was so painful. It brought back a ton of memories, you know, those deeply buried bad things that you never tell anyone!

When you write about your life, you will always be scrutinized. And let me tell you, it’s really hard not to take it personally. But the good news is, I get emails almost daily from people that have been inspired or are suffering from the same condition as I was, and I know I’ve made a difference in their lives. And for that, I would tell my story over and over again.

Thanks for asking.

Answered in Quora


How to be unforgettable

How did Toni Morrison influence your life?

At this time in my life as I’ve allowed myself to fall in love againI would say her words on love touch my soul in profound ways.

Every great author and some who never achieve world-wide acclaim has affected our lives in a multitude of ways. Toni Morrison’s work is in a class by itself. Maybe right up there with Maya Angelou.

I will let her words speak to you in honor of her memory.

“Love is or it ain’t. Thin love ain’t love at all.”

“Something that is loved is never lost.”

“To get to a place where you could love anything you chose, not to need permission for desire, well now that was freedom.”

“Love is divine only and difficult always. If you think it is easy you are a fool. If you think it is natural you are blind.”

It is the courage of authors like Toni that have opened their hearts and bared their souls, that gave me the guts to write the stories that I write. My memoir LOVE The Beat Goes On is so personal and revealing it took me years before I would publish it.

“Make up a story. For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.” Toni Morrison

So I went on and wrote about a 50 year-old-woman and her 20-year-old lover in Target in the Sun. And then I exposed the lives of several male prostitutes in Mexico writing in the first person as Layla, in Lie To Me, again opening myself to major criticism, but also an award for Contemporary Fiction Social Issues.

It’s not easy to reveal yourself because that’s what I do when I write. Yes, my books are “fiction” but as in the current Daniel Silva book The New Girl, our stories are often based on fact. Some hide it better than others.

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”  Toni Morrison

This sums it up for me:

Lynda Filler photographer

Answered on Quora

How do you see the world around you?

I always find find photography to be an inspiration in my writing. I use places and people that I meet along my way to create characters and locations for my stories. My walk in Istanbul yesterday morning and the tram ride to Sultanahmet Square in the afternoon, are great examples.

I’m currently working on Code Raven 7 which features Turkey and the Middle East. One of my key characters in this book is a DJ named EM+EM. He’s currently on the trail of terrorists after a horrific event during his wedding the night before. He is taking a jog from Kariköy to the Blue Mosque and these are photos of things he would see during his run.

I hope you enjoyed a slice of my life. If you wish to see more, please join me on Lynda Filler Author and/or Lynda Filler Creates on Instagram

Code Raven 7 is untitled but will be out late fall. In the meantime, don’t miss the fun! LYNDA FILLER AMAZON Code Raven Prequel it’s $.99 and gives you the background on who is Luke Raven?

Make something every day.


Seth Godin sent me to my blog! So here I am!

“My work is to figure out how to share emotions and stories with people to turn lights on for them. And the part of it that scares me is wasting the privilege, wasting the leverage, wasting the opportunity. So that’s why I keep pioneering and pushing new ways to do it encouraging people to copy me.”

“After you innovate, you have to keep pushing forward, coming up with new ways to move things forward.”

Writer’s block is a myth. Being a professional is showing up everyday and making something despite how you feel. The world needs more artists, who love what they do, and do it despite uncertain outcomes.”

Whoever fails the most, wins. Now if you fail too big, you don’t get to play anymore. So we have to learn how to fail, just the right amount to keep on going. Make small calculated risks so you can be in the game long enough to succeed.”

“If I come to your barbershop for a haircut. I don’t care if you had a fight with your girlfriend and don’t feel like cutting my hair. I came to you for a haircut. Cut. My. Hair. That’s what it means to be a professional.”

I think I’ve given you a few key notes to think about. Sometimes I’m asked questions on Quora about writing. Often times it centers around story ideas or writers’ block, or ‘what should I write?’ The reality is if it’s your job to write, don’t talk about it, write something! And don’t waste your readers time. If my reader expects to learn something or be entertained on my page, then it’s my job to deliver that to you/him/her each and every time. No excuses. The same when I write a novel or a non-fiction book. You are trusting me to deliver what you are paying for…entertainment or ideas and knowledge. 

It’s become a habit that even when I am working on the marketing and sales of my books, I will not go to bed without writing something. It might be a blog like this or a few fun things on FaceBook, but if time is limited, I go on Quora and answer questions. A writer writes. No excuses. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed a few ideas I picked up on You Tube today. I love to share with my readers and will answer anything and everything you throw my way. If you have any questions about any of my areas of expertise, feel free to send me an email or drop a note in the comments. And remember, I spend far too much time on Facebook so feel free to connect with me there and get my latest news. 

And speaking of news: I have a free prequel for you. 

Drop by Amazon and download a free copy of Luke Raven and Code Raven, how this exciting and fun series began. 

https://amzn.to/2QuCgnf

CODE RAVEN PREQUEL free!   

https://amzn.to/2QuCgnf

How important is Creativity in your career?

Screen Shot 2018-10-29 at 8.32.26 PM

I love this message from Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo Chairman, in her fireside chat at Stanford Graduate School of Business. Enjoy the interchange between Ms. Nooyi and CEO Doug McMilon of Walmart.

I think there are many important points you may take from their talk. There are a couple that got my attention. Part of this is due to my background which consists of Fashion, both retail and wholesale, being the CEO of my own corporations for many years, and the importance of presentation and design in the marketing of my past products and my current business–writing novels.

Fashion: well, of course, that’s easy. We know design and creativity are integral to fashion.

We don’t have to think about it all. And we all know the expression, “Don’t judge a book by its cover!” But we still do! The marketplace is saturated with competition for your reading dollar. So if my covers don’t stand out from the crowd, no matter how great the stories will be, my work will not be noticed. Packaging is important. It’s really that simple.

When Indra Nooyi took over PepsiCo, she had a history to live up to, a brand image that was doing well, an iconic product.

So her challenge in 2006 was to set the tone of change, moving forward with the times without rocking the financial boat in the process. She set about doing this by gentle persuasion. Many silently ignored her and kept on doing what they had always done. But that wasn’t good enough. One of the comments Ms. Nooyi made was she wished she had done more executive buy-outs sooner instead of waiting, hoping that she could persuade the people running different parts of the company, for the need to move forward, the need to change.

I was quite fascinated by this chat. One of my ongoing challenges as an author in this era of fast-paced-technology is how quickly things change.

When I think I’ve mastered a way of doing something, someone moves the bar, and I need to learn a new approach. The task is challenging. But as Indra Nooyi states, it doesn’t matter how successful you are, the market is continuously expecting you to be miles ahead anticipating new tastes, trends, and styles.

At minute 14 she discusses design.

It jogged my memory of this summer when the hype for FIFA2018 hit the marketplace. One of the first things I noticed was how Coca-Cola–my brand of choice–immediately had their design team incorporate the soccer ball onto their product packaging. Subliminally it reminded us of the excitement we all felt here in Mexico and the pride worldwide for our teams who would be participating in this amazing event.

The history of change is openly and transparently discussed.

At the beginning of her tenure, the board and executives were hesitant for change. They didn’t see the need. But slowly over time, they got it! And now, not unlike you and I in our prospective careers, the market is moving so quickly the common challenge we all face is that we aren’t running fast enough to keep up!

I also enjoyed listening to the banter between Ms. Nooyi and Doug McMilon, CEO of Walmart. I’ve been out of the fashion business for many years now, but I admire the job that Walmart has done to update, stay current, and provide what the consumer wants in the manner the consumer expects to get it in today’s fast-moving marketplace.

This video is well worth the time you may take to watch–or in my case, I listen–while getting ready to start my work-day.

 

 

Read more about Lynda Filler in her highly-acclaimed memoir on healing LOVE The Beat Goes On.

“Powerful and unforgettable” JackMagnus, 5 Star Readers’ Favorite

“This is a book every human alive should read and take away the lessons given. If I could give it ten stars, I would. It’s that good.”J. Sikes

When your cardiologist tells you to “Get your affairs in order, your heart condition is incurable,” what do you do?

Love front with quotesLOVE The Beat Goes On Amazon